LUSAKA – Nearly 800 women and youth entrepreneurs have completed an innovative U.S. government-funded entrepreneurship project that supports women’s empowerment and inclusive economic development in Zambia.
The one-year Kuku Project, implemented by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC) through a K6.2 million ($280,000) grant from the U.S. government, provided training to 769 early-stage entrepreneurs from Kuku, Chawama, Mtendere, and other Lusaka communities. The entrepreneurs received business training in a broad range of fields based on their interests, including agro-processing, renewable energy, videography, tailoring, carpentry, and bricklaying.
The project was a community effort. More than 25 local business mentors and other partners provided training, mentorship, life skills coaching, co-working space, networking skills, and guidance on how to raise financing. The project’s model as a community hub established broad-based community engagement and investments to encourage sustainable businesses and richer opportunities for participants.
Upon conclusion of the project, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Young stated, “The Kuku Project highlights the U.S. government’s commitment to economic prosperity and job creation. Many Zambians have great business ideas, and we are pleased that this project is bringing those concepts to life.”
WEAC Executive Director Nambula Kachumi remarked, “The outbreak of COVID-19 has posed a major threat to small businesses in Zambia, contributing to a rapid spike in the unemployment rate. This situation requires accelerated effort and more investment in community-based skills projects that are likely to secure future jobs, build self-reliance, and promote inclusive innovation.”
The Kuku Project complements other U.S. government programs building entrepreneurship skills and supporting economic growth in Zambia. The United States is currently sponsoring the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a women-focused initiative taking place in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe. Later this year, AWE will expand into Livingstone. The program has already empowered 250 women with entrepreneurial knowledge, tools, resources, and financing to start and grow their businesses.